Finding Entrepreneurial Triggers

There is a huge amount of writing about how to become an entrepreneur and how to be more successful as one. Young folks who have heard fantastic tales of start-ups becoming unicorns and billionaires who have not yet turned thirty gobble the stuff up.

And then they find out that starting up an enterprise and making it work is not so easy. The failure rate is astounding. Part of the reason is that the folks who get these ideas have little to no knowledge of how markets work. They think that it is driven by ideas, especially cool ideas. It is not. The tough reality is that most ideas are not the stuff of new products or services, and even when they are, it is very hard to get the attention of people who might want them, and even if you do, they more often than not won’t see it.

Ouch! For that reason, advice like Greg Satell gives about turning ideas into products is useful.

  1. start with finding customers BEFORE you invest in building products. As Steve Blank preaches, customer reactions to what you do will dictate what you do next.
  2. accept that your idea is probably not new. You need to learn about market history – especially why earlier attempts to build a market niche have failed
  3. great ideas are ideas that connect to other ideas. They do not stand alone. Find and build on connections rather than on things alone.

All good advice. And there is a single idea that underlies them all. In order to sell something new, you need to TRIGGER new behavior. And understanding what triggers behavior is the most important new knowledge you can gain. You get that by experimenting with customers to test for triggers, by seeing what triggers current behavior patterns, and by understanding the package of triggers that forms a “context” or “experience”.

In other words, learning how to start-up means learning how to master triggers in your  market.


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